Visits to the emergency department (ED) at hospitals due to anaphylaxis have nearly doubled over a seven-year period, according to data released in a report on Sept. 10 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
While 1 percent of all Canadian emergency visits are for allergic reactions, and that number remained relatively steady over the same period, rates for anaphylaxis were up across all demographics.
Teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 experienced the highest increase (23 per 100,000 in 2006-2007, compared to 59 per 100,000 in 2013-2014). Children primarily presented at hospital emergency departments with food-related reactions or unspecified reactions (where the cause of the reaction was unknown or left undocumented).
The number of ED visits for allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis) from all causes were highest in the summer; visits for food-related allergies also saw increases in December.
“Our data indicates that hospital visits for allergic reactions increase during times of the year when people may not be in their regular routines,” said Kathleen Morris, CIHI’s vice president of Research and Analysis.
Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist and immunologist at Hamilton Health Sciences who was not involved in collecting the data, is concerned about the rise, but told CBC News online that she thinks the data need to be analyzed in more detail, over time, to better understand the cause of the shift.
“It’s always a bit disconcerting when we see that people are coming in with a greater frequency,” Waserman noted.